But that’s old news.
Introducing (drum roll please) . . .
Ultra-Alarmed Ultrasound Face. A November 4, 2011 article appeared on major news sites showcasing a rather startling tumor discovery. It was clear as day; no head tilts, eye squinting or fancy libations were needed to view the face in this image:
But it doesn’t stop there.
Prefer art over ultrasounds? The latest news revolves around the appearance of the devil’s face in Giotto’s famous fresco, “Life and Death of St. Frances.” Dark horns and a profile lurk in the clouds. It’s believed that this was an intentional act carried out by the 13th century painter who apparently did this for the fun, er, hell of it. Turns out, the devil really is in the details.
The proliferation of faces brought to our awareness by the media as well as friends (finally, friends admit to seeing faces too!) brings me a bit of relief. For years now, I’ve seen faces. Faces everywhere.
Face the Facts: Just Your Usual Case of Pareidolia
So I did what many people do when they think they suspect a fever or a case of the crazies: I turned to the good ‘ole internet for some “am I normal?” assessments. Turns out, the phenomena of seeing faces in objects like shoe laces or chicken wings is called Pareidolia. Whew.
A 2007 NY Times article delves into the reasons why we see Demi Moore on a radish or Bozo the Clown in molten lava. According to Dr. Takeo Watanabe, a neuroscientist at Boston University, when the brain is exposed to a stimulus, it continues to perceive that stimulus even when it’s long gone. So, our gray matter holds on tight to all of the faces we’ve seen throughout our lives. From pictures of Grandma to strangers at Disney World, we remember every nose, scar and expression and apparently, we’re always in a state of high face recognition alert. Dr. Watanabe concluded, “people have gotten so used to seeing faces everywhere that sensitivity to them is high enough to produce constant false positives.”
So, what does this all mean? Whatever you want, I suppose. Messages from the heavens? Perhaps. A fantastic Jesus on a Jerky eBay sale? Could be.
But maybe, just maybe, it simply is what it is. Let’s face it, even Freud once said, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
Or is it?